Skip to main content

Zaha Hadid: 'I wouldn't build a prison'

By Sheena McKenzie, CNN
updated 10:03 AM EDT, Thu October 31, 2013
Architect Zaha Hadid, outside Glasgow's Riverside Museum, her first major public commission in the UK, in 2011.
Architect Zaha Hadid, outside Glasgow's Riverside Museum, her first major public commission in the UK, in 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Architect Zaha Hadid says politicians should take care of their work force
  • Believes architecture can "alleviate an oppressive situation"
  • Full article to appear on CNN.com tomorrow

(CNN) -- She wouldn't build a prison. But the world's most famous female architect, Zaha Hadid, says she's willing to work in countries which have faced criticisms over their human rights records.

The 62-year-old Iraqi-born Briton made the comments during an exclusive interview with CNN -- to appear in full Friday.

Hadid, the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize in 2004 -- regarded as the Nobel of architecture -- designed Beijing's Galaxy Soho shopping center and Heydar Aliyev cultural center in Azerbaijan.

Is she concerned about the human rights credentials of the countries -- Hadid is responsible for 950 projects in 44 countries -- she works in?

"As an architect, if you can in any way alleviate an oppressive situation, or elevate a culture, then I think that you should," Hadid, who has been commissioned to build Japan's 2020 Olympic Stadium and recently opened London's Serpentine Sackler gallery, told CNN.

"It's different if someone asks you to build a prison -- I wouldn't do it. But if I'm doing a museum or a library, I think that's different," added Hadid, whose latest project is designing a superyacht.

"I think that you can't isolate nations because somebody doesn't approve. And if that is the case, then they shouldn't have diplomatic relationships with them."

And the conditions of the construction workers?

"It's not your responsibility really. I think different nations should take care of their workforce.

"As an architect, if you are involved in every layer then honestly you don't do anything. I'm not saying I shouldn't be thinking about it, but I think it's a job for the politicians, for the media, for the locals, to deal with it."

For the full interview, see CNN on November 1.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 8:15 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT